Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Airlines Need to Work on the Whole Customer Service Thing

When I bought the plane tickets for the SVP annual meeting, I booked my flight a day before booking J's flight because I wasn't sure if J would be able to come. I booked my departure flight from home for the 14th and J's for the 16th. Though we're traveling on different flights to the conference, we'll be leaving on the same day, so I booked us the same return flights.

Last night I got an email from US Airways saying that they had changed J's itinerary. After comparing his return flight information with mine, I realized that that we would no longer be on the same return flight, so I called the company to see if we could arrange to fly together.

The woman on the phone assured me that J and I were on the same return flight. I was looking at our itineraries and could see that she was wrong. We had different flights, different times, different flight numbers. I told her this.

Her response? Apparently they also changed my itinerary, but had neglected to tell me. And they changed my departing flight from home so that I would arrive in the connecting flight airport two hours AFTER my connecting flight was scheduled to leave.

The US Airways woman told me that she would fix my itinerary so that I wouldn't miss my connecting flight. "I can get you to Cleveland at 9:45 pm," she said. I was originally scheduled to arrive in Cleveland at 3:30.

"That won't work," I told her. "I'm attending a conference and I need to be in Cleveland at 3:30 or earlier." I REALLY want to go to Neil Shubin's talk, which is at 8:00 pm.

After being INCREDIBLY firm for a while, the woman finally contacted her "superior" and got me on an early flight.

I'm unsettled, though. What if my itinerary changes again? How would I know?

I hate flying and it seems like it's just becoming more and more of a hassle.

Monday, August 18, 2008


This coming semester, I'll be taking two introductory lab science courses - biology and geology. I got my geology textbook the other day and started reading it right away because

1) I am a dork.
2) I love school and can't wait for it to start.
3) I have a RIDICULOUSLY busy fall, not counting school, and I want to get ahead so that I don't actually get behind.

I barely remember anything that I read, which is pretty normal for me...I have a terrible memory, especially when I am expected to memorize facts. I learn much much more when I experience something or have something tangible to associate it with. For example, I know how the first measurement of the Earth's circumference was made...but I can't remember who made it or when they made it. The reason being that I could relate to the process of measuring shadows finding out angles and multiplying distances by the numbers of angles. But remembering a name, with nothing to relate it to? Nope. Not happening.

For people like me, reading about science can be very frustrating. I know that I have read about the Cambrian critters found in the Burgess Shale, but I can't remember which is which. I can't remember what makes an Arthropod and Arthropod.

For me, it is very important to research why we know the things we know. When I understand how the Sonic Hedgehog gene was discovered, I can remember, rather easily, what it is.

If I had more time, I would start a blog just about the research that backs the knowledge we have.

Speaking of, has anyone read Dinosaurs: The Science Behind the Stories?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Life goes on...

I'm in the kitchen on the phone with Norton's Symantec, trying to get some help with my Internet Security program. About five months ago, my subscription ran out and Norton began telling me I had to activate the product again, even though I still had a good seven months left on my subscription. When I try to activate the product, I keep getting an error message from Windows that says "symlcsvc.exe stopped working and was closed." I have been on hold for twenty minutes and still have not spoken to a single human being. The computer-voice operator told me that I could pay to get priority over all the other calls...but damned if I'm going to pay Norton to fix a problem that is their fault. When my subscription is up, I will NOT be renewing. I refuse to ever buy a product again if I can't reach a human in customer service within ten minutes.

I'm pretty cranky. I miss Echo and it's really empty here without her. It feels like there's this little hole somewhere where stuff is leaking out of and I don't know how to plug it, or if I even should try. I expect to see her on my bed when I walk past my bedroom and in the nook in the hallway when I walk to the bathroom. Petting Emily reminds me of petting Echo and I keep having these terrible thoughts, like Emily is so great, but she's not Echo. The two of them balanced each other out completely; opposites. Emily is timid, skittish, quirky. Echo was confident, snuggly, predictable.

I just spent an hour on the phone with a woman named Oliver from the Philippines. I was planning on giving her a piece of my mind because Norton has pissed me off royally. But it isn't Oliver's fault, so I was polite instead. She fixed the problem. My computer is working fine now.

Every time I hear the word "sleepyhead" I imagine my tiny little Echo, asleep in her bed. I imagine a sick, unhappy cat. I imagine telling her, "sleepyhead, wake up," as she lies, limp and not breathing on the exam table at the animal hospital. My favorite folk artist has a song with those words and I am afraid to listen to the CD because I know that hearing "sleepyhead, wake up" set to sweet music will tip me over and spill out all that hurt.

I know this will get easier with time. I know that when school starts, I'll have less time to think about Echo, though I will miss her homework-interrupting presence.

At least I'll have a laptop that's entirely protected from viruses.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bad News...

We're euthanizing Echo tomorrow. She's just deteriorating and the vet said at the rate she's losing weight, she'll starve to death. She sits in one spot all day and the smell of food causes her to vomit. She doesn't want to eat or be touched and she barely looks up when I talk to her. It's the right thing to do. The decision wasn't difficult to make, given her condition.

The worst part is knowing that she won't be here this weekend and having to make it through today, knowing what will happen tomorrow.

The love I have for Echo is simple. I love her flaws - how she can be a mega bitch when she's jealous, how she ignores me if she's upset with me, how she claims my pillow at night as if she pays the rent. I love her quirks - how she licks herself if you touch that spot on her chest, how she falls off the bed when she grooms herself. I love the good stuff - how she resembles a teddy bear when she's playing, how she says goodbye to me by the front door every morning, how she snuggles up with me when I'm in bed or trying to do homework. There's nothing about her that I don't love. I am going to miss her immensely.

Thanks for all your support throughout this, blog world. It means a whole hell of a lot to me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Really cool science!

Will of The Dragon's Tales and his team, Team Phoenicia, are attempting to win the Google Lunar X Prize! Any donations would help significantly with the project. Even just a dollar or two. You can donate from the team's home page. Just click "donate."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Answers to Zach's Questions

Zach asked: "Does the modeling gig pay well? Is it a tedious process? Is it fun? This is something you have to blog about sometime!"

Yes, it does pay well, depending on the job. Sometimes the job takes three hours and you make $150 bucks. Other times, you work for a day (10 hours or so) and make 700 bucks. People with more experience than me make maybe twice or three times that amount. The agency, if you work through one, takes about 20% of your pay. So, it does pay well, if you're used to making less than $20 an hour, which I am. The only real downside is that you have to handle your own taxes, and that can be a bit stressful.

I really enjoy the work. It can be extremely intimidating, but you meet interesting people. I'm pretty social so I don't mind meeting new people and I'm relatively good at getting to know them and getting comfortable with them in a short amount of time. It feels like an adventure. Of course, I also have a lot of insecurity, so it's hard to get over that initially.

The work itself is a lot harder than you'd think. It's hard to smile and relax with people staring at you and a camera in your face. You have to change poses after every camera click, so you have to constantly be thinking ahead. I have to make squinty faces and do facial acrobatics to stretch my face and let it relax.

If you're shooting for a clothing line, you end up changing a lot. For the Life is Good shoot, I probably tried on thirty or so tee shirts, several backpacks, four or five sets of mittens and gloves and various vests, sweatshirts and pants. I often had to change in really cold weather; there was snow on the ground and I posed in tee shirts. My fingers were freezing and the worst was changing from one shirt to another and being in 10 degree weather with a tank top on. The shots with me in the backpacks and hats were all taken in the rain and it was hard to keep my eyes open. When I did, I got pelted in the eyes with icy raindrops.

It's also hard to shoot in public places. Some of the photos for the Life is Good shoot were done in a supermarket and a cafe. People got pretty curious about what was going on and would watch, which made me pretty self-conscious.

I really love it. I mean, it's definitely hard...after a full day of smiling, your face hurts and you just want to scowl, but it's fun. And it pays well. A couple of jobs a year would be a real help, say, if I were in school full time.

I'm on teh internets!

They finally put up the new fall stuff at the Life is Good website, which means that somewhere, buried in the the mittens and gloves section, are some pictures of me.

I'll link to the individual pages so you don't have to go searching everywhere:

Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Last night, Echo started eating food off of my fingers. This is GREAT! I no longer have to use a syringe to get food into her mouth. She is much happier now. The only problem is, I have to feed her every hour or so, which makes going anywhere kinda tough. She's still not eating a lot and she's still just chillaxing in her little bed all day, but she doesn't seem miserable and her grooming tells me that she hasn't lost the will to live.

I'm starting to think about textbooks again, since school is rolling up on me quite quickly. I would like to buy them as early as possible to avoid having to buy them in the bookstore, just in case I can get a better deal elsewhere. Of course, I can't do anything until my next paycheck gets deposited.

It's strange going from a place of financial comfort to living paycheck-to-paycheck. It's not all that long ago that I was only making $11,000 a year, so you'd think I'd be used to it. I'm going to have to get used to it again, I'm sure, when I start school full-time.

It's early: 7 am. I got up an hour earlier than usual to feed Echo and will feed her again in a half hour. I love being up before everyone else. It's so quiet and I really need that right now.

In an hour, I'll leave for work and drop J off at Starbucks. The last time we were there, we made everyone smile when we serenaded each other with that Willy Nelson version of "You are Always on My Mind." He's a good dude, that J.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Batman Parody

I loved The Dark Knight and I had only two complaints. One was that the movie had a false ending, and it was hard to get geared up for another full hour of film afterward. The second complaint has to do with Batman's voice, and that has yielded one of the funniest videos I've ever seen, so I'll forgive it:

Interrogative Scene from "The Dark Knight" Funny Jokes at JibJab

Blue Collar Scientist

Jeff, the Blue Collar Scientist, has passed away. Keep his family and loved ones in your thoughts.

I'm so sorry

I really am. I haven't done a great job of keeping up with this blog this summer.

A quick update: Echo is still alive. She has lung cancer but the vet doesn't know if she's sick right now because of the cancer or something else. She has stopped eating for the most part, so J and I are "assist feeding" her, which is just a euphamism for force-feeding. She perks up a lot when she eats, which is a good sign. The vet said I should consider a feeding tube, but I really don't want to do that. I'd rather force-feed her. I've spent all my SVP annual meeting savings on her - at least the money I had saved for the hotel. I'm doing my best to save it up again before October, but it's going to be hard! My father has offered to lend me some money if I need it, so I'll definitely be able to go.

I'm going to be really busy for the next couple of months with weddings, birthdays, school and the cat, but I'll try to get some stuff posted. I'm sure once school starts I'll be posting like crazy. Funny how that works.

Thanks...you guys are great and I can't wait to meet some of you this fall.